Local News

Historic Oxford home threatened with demolition

Posted July 15, 2008 2:48 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2008 6:34 p.m. EDT

— The town of Oxford is threatening to tear down an historic property if the owner does not make plans to fix it up.

Mayor Al Woodlief said the home, at 217 College St., is a distraction and a danger in a neighborhood of fancy, older homes. He has given the property owner 30 days to contract to have the house repaired. If he can't deliver, Woodlief said, the city will demolish the old mansion.

The paint is chipped. Holes in the exterior provide safe harbor for bats and rodents, and the roof has caved in.

Jo Richards, who lives across the street, is concerned that the house is bringing down property values in the whole neighborhood. "It's an eyesore and it's a safety concern," she said.

Maureen Taylor, chairwoman of the Oxford Historic Preservation Commission, would like to see the property preserved. "It's a wonderful old house. It is on the national register of historic places," she noted.

The owner, Tom Watkins, could not be reached for comment. He does not live in town. He has a local phone number, but the voice mailbox is full.

The mayor is adamant that improvements be made. "We want it painted," he said. "We want the outside brought up right away."

Two men were spotted doing yard work at the house Tuesday. They said they were hired by Watkins.

Neighbors said it's a start on a project that's long overdue.